Utah firefighters blame city for blaze at station
Salt Lake City — Four Salt Lake City firefighters say one of their own stations caught fire because the city ignored codes on storing oily rags and the blaze endangered lives because officials failed to install enough smoke detectors.
The men have filed notice of a potential lawsuit against the city over the March 2015 fire.
They say officials didn’t bring the downtown fire station up to code when it was renovated in 2011, and didn’t put any smoke detectors on the floor where firefighters were sleeping when it started.
City officials question the accuracy of the claims, but Mayor Jackie Biskupski is willing to listen to the firefighters’ concerns, said spokesman Matthew Rojas.
The four were among nine emergency workers at the station, one of the oldest in the city, when the fire started. It caused extensive damage and the building remains closed more than a year later.
One of the firefighters, Steve Hoffman, says four fires have been sparked by oily rags at city stations since 2011.
Hoffman said his request for air-tight containers to safely store the flammable material at the station was refused.
Salt Lake City Chief Brian Dale denied that, but said that each fire station has now been equipped with proper storage.
Hoffman and the other firefighters — Kyle Marston, Jim Williams and Gregory Holmes — also claim that there were no smoke detectors in their sleeping quarters and many people were awakened by their co-workers rather than alarms.
Some firefighters suffered smoke inhalation in the blaze.
The fire chief said in a statement that the station’s smoke detectors were up to code, though Dale couldn’t say exactly how many alarms there were or where they were located.
The firefighters’ claims were first reported by the Salt Lake Tribune.
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